By Taryn Luna
Former Republican lawmaker Tony Strickland will pay a $40,000 fine under a settlement with campaign finance regulators approved Thursday, with the former lawmaker admitting that he arranged for supporters to bypass voter-approved contribution limits during his 2010 race for state controller.
A Fair Political Practices Commission investigation found that Strickland routed $65,000 in illegal contributions from three individuals to a campaign fund to support his bid to unseat Controller John Chiang in 2010.
According to case documents, Strickland asked donors to funnel money earmarked for his campaign through the Ventura County Republican Party and the Stanislaus County Republican Party committees. The county committees passed the funds along to Strickland for Controller and in some instances received a cut of the money.
The plot allowed the original donors to conceal their identities in state filings and circumvent the then-contribution limit of $6,500 per election for controller’s candidates.
“We are pleased Mr. Strickland accepted responsibility for the violations,” said Galena West, the FPPC’s chief of enforcement in a statement. She said the fine “sends a message that this type of activity will be aggressively prosecuted and will not be tolerated.”
Strickland said he didn’t launder money or solicit party donations for himself.
“This case is more than six years old,” Strickland said in a statement. “As such, and in order to move forward, I felt that it was the best interest to settle this
case and move on.”
Strickland currently serves as the California chairman of the Committee for American Sovereignty, a new pro-Donald Trump super PAC. The Republican politician has also pledged to serve as a delegate for Trump at the party convention.
Strickland served in the California Legislature from 1998 through 2012 and lost twice to Chiang, in 2006 and 2010. He also made two unsuccessful bids for Congress in 2012 and 2014.
The FPPC originally proposed an $80,000 fine, which the agency said it reduced because Strickland publicly acknowledged his wrongdoing. The commissioners briefly discussed the lowered fine before approving it on a 4-0 vote during their monthly meeting. The settlement cut the number of counts against Strickland in half, from 16 to 8.
Both Strickland and the Stanislaus County Republican Party committee have admitted wrongdoing in the case. The FPPC said the settlements with two parties will bolster its case against the Ventura County Republican Party committee, which is contesting its involvement.